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On the cusp of 80, Paul McCartney is still our most charming rock god

Even — or particularly — in entrance of fifty,000 adoring followers, Paul McCartney was simply one other proud grandparent.

Because the 79-year-old pop legend sang his traditional soft-rock ballad “Perhaps I’m Amazed” on Friday evening, large screens at Inglewood’s SoFi Stadium flashed outdated photographs of him cradling his new child daughter Mary inside a shearling jacket. You understand the photographs, probably the most well-known of which — snapped by his late spouse Linda, about whom he wrote “Perhaps I’m Amazed” — appeared on the again cowl of McCartney’s do-it-yourself 1970 solo debut, when he’d retreated into the bosom of his household amid the Beatles’ painful breakup.

“That child in my jacket’s now acquired 4 infants of her personal,” he informed the capability crowd, itself a transparent bastion of grandparenting, on the finish of the music.

After greater than half a century as certainly one of music’s largest acts, Sir Paul has an earnest attraction that is still his superpower. It’s not that he lacks rock-star swagger. And “relatable” in all probability isn’t the phrase for a man with extra money than he may ever spend. However as an icon, what McCartney will get is that individuals crave artwork that makes magic from their on a regular basis experiences.

Friday’s live performance got here a few weeks into McCartney’s first tour since a 2019 outing that concluded at Dodger Stadium, the place he introduced out his outdated bandmate Ringo Starr for a shock jam on the Beatles’ “Helter Skelter.” Known as “Bought Again,” the present 14-date jaunt additionally marks McCartney’s return to the street after a prolonged interruption brought on by COVID-19.

“We mentioned we’d come again,” he declared at SoFi. “And we acquired again.”

He wasn’t precisely out of sight through the pandemic. In late 2020 he launched “McCartney III,” one other DIY solo LP within the shabby-chic spirit of the 1970 disc, in addition to a e book of his collected lyrics. And final yr he helped set off a recent wave of Beatlemania with “Get Again,” Peter Jackson’s epic fly-on the-wall docuseries concerning the making of the band’s ultimate two studio albums and its historic 1969 efficiency atop the Apple Corps constructing in London.

Nonetheless, the stage is the place McCartney appears most invested in stewarding his legacy as he prepares to show 80 subsequent month. (Per week after his birthday, he’ll grow to be the oldest individual ever to headline England’s huge Glastonbury competition.) McCartney has lengthy considered his dwell present as a chance to condense his life’s work — music with the Beatles, music with Wings, music on his personal — right into a 2½-hour survey of crackling riffs, honeyed harmonies and the form of deep-seated emotional optimism that led him to accompany “Getting Higher” on Friday with a video that depicted flowers arising by means of the rubble of a post-apocalyptic panorama.

Not like a few of his fellow classic-rock survivors — Bob Dylan and Neil Younger, let’s say — McCartney shows little curiosity in spontaneity or unpredictability, to say nothing of the bewilderment and confusion that Dylan appears to relish sowing in his audiences. Right here he recycled between-song banter he’s been utilizing for years, as when he informed a narrative about assembly Jimi Hendrix in London in 1967 and when he launched the title observe from 2013’s “New” album with a quip about how the stadium’s galaxy of glowing cellphones reworked right into a black gap each time he performed one thing comparatively current.

Throughout one other of these newish tunes — the torchy “My Valentine,” which he devoted to his spouse, Nancy, who he mentioned was in the home Friday — the screens confirmed Johnny Depp in black-and-white footage shot earlier than the actor’s involvement in an unpleasant authorized battle relating to home abuse that you simply’d have thought the perpetually sunny McCartney would’ve been glad to not conjure.

Awkward associations apart, the unchanging living-museum high quality of a McCartney gig is exactly its meant advantage; the present, through which he’s backed by a band of stalwart musicians he’s performed with for ages, represents an opportunity to behold somebody nonetheless on the market doing it at an especially excessive degree — and, after all, to dwell inside his songs for a night.

Paul McCartney and band in live performance at SoFi Stadium on Friday. The unchanging living-museum high quality of a McCartney gig is exactly its meant advantage.

(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Instances)

And, oh, these superb songs: At SoFi, McCartney performed no fewer than three dozen of them, together with many you knew you needed to listen to (“Blackbird,” “Band on the Run,” “Hey Jude”), just a few you possibly hadn’t realized you needed to listen to (“Let ’Em In,” “Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-5”) and at the very least one you undoubtedly didn’t need to hear however endured anyway (“Fuh You,” about which the much less mentioned the higher).

“Letting Go” had a imply strut; “Let Me Roll It” was snarling and sensual. “Get Again” throbbed with the pent-up vitality of each the Beatles in Jackson’s doc and McCartney and his guys after an unwelcome break from the street. For “Stay and Let Die” the stage erupted with comically over-the-top pyrotechnics; “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da” impressed a euphoric crowd singalong.

In the course of the present, McCartney and the members of his band convened close to the entrance of the stage for comparatively stripped-down variations of the Beatles’ debut single, “Love Me Do,” and “In Spite of All of the Hazard,” which he, John Lennon and George Harrison recorded once they had been referred to as the Quarrymen.

To begin his encore, McCartney — who reemerged onstage waving an enormous Ukrainian flag, whereas certainly one of his bandmates waved an LGBTQ delight one — deployed a little bit of digital tricknology he mentioned Jackson had connected for him: a digital duet with Lennon on “I’ve Bought a Feeling” that used the late Beatle’s vocals from a recording of the rooftop live performance. It was certainly one of a number of moments Friday through which McCartney paid loving tribute to his outdated bandmates, together with a young rendition of “Right here Right this moment,” which he mentioned informed Lennon all of the issues he wasn’t in a position to in actual life, and Harrison’s “One thing,” which he started on ukulele earlier than shifting to acoustic guitar.

Touchingly, McCartney’s age was extra evident right here than it was at Dodger Stadium. He moved just a little extra slowly than he has up to now, and his voice took just a little longer to heat up. (His good hair, for what it’s value, nonetheless swooped simply so.) But to view these inevitable concessions as drawbacks is to overlook the purpose of Paul McCartney. The purpose is that his music allowed for them.

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